I was in trigonometry my senior year of high school when the first plane hit the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. At a Lutheran high school in Springfield, Ill. About as far removed from downtown Manhattan as you can get.
I know, because I spent the next five Sept. 11's in New York City; two, living in a dorm building blocks from the World Trade Center. I woke up in those mornings to the sound of the names of those lost in the terrorist attacks being read aloud, echoing across a quiet and somber Financial District. I spent disquieting nights watching police place barricades and flares in the street in front of my dorm after plans for a terrorist car bombing in the area were uncovered. I made friends who had lived in that dorm when debris from the burning, falling towers rained on the area, who had spent their first-period high school classes watching the smoke rise in the distance and desperately trying to get ahold of family members, who had been first responders to the scene and still struggle emotionally and physically. I always felt like New Yorkers were a little nicer on the anniversary of that day; You never knew what someone else was going through.
I was supposed to fly to New York the day or two after the attacks for a college open house at New York University. Flights were grounded, and well-meaning friends were sure this meant I shouldn't make the cross-country move to a city of ruins. But I caught a later open house. I graduated cum laude from NYU.
But this day isn't about me.
Some of the best Sept. 11 remembrances I've read today have come from some of our own at The Courier-News.
Community News Editor Julia Doyle tweeted: "This day isn't about me & where I was. It isn't about Qurans. It's about the 2,977 people killed in NYC, Va. & Pa. for being Americans."
And Reporter Mike Danahey posted on Facebook: "Enjoy a day, and be nice to people who are different from you."
So let's do that. Let's remember the families who have been separated, both by the attacks and by the wars that followed. Let's remember those we lost in New York, D.C. and Pennsylvania, and those who still are affected in the aftermath. That's who this day is about. Let's also remember the day when headlines on different newspapers, from different countries, from people who are different from "us," read, "We are all Americans." And let's be nice to people who are different. Because we are all Americans.
Take a moment to share your memories of Sept. 11, 2001, here. And then let's enjoy a day.
-- Emily McFarlan, Staff Writer